Posts Tagged ‘Jann Arden’

Tag, I’m it!

My friend at Bees on Skis has included me in this fun little game and I’m more than happy to play along.  And not just because my bestie told me that for a change, I need to write something that doesn’t make her cry!

My relationship with Bees is kind of a funny one.  I know her in “real life” which is to say we knew each other in the actual world before we met again in the blogging world.  I’ve never been to her house and she’s been to mine only a couple of times, we live thousands of miles away from each other and see each other next to never, and yet I would not hesitate in the least to say we’re friends.  We met through our hubbies because they grew up together and what a bonus it was to meet her and find out that I really liked her.  With or without the hubby connection I know we would be friends anyway and I’m just counting the days until we can spend an afternoon together in London, drinking tea, talking about books and laughing, laughing, laughing.  We’ll get there…one day!

In the meantime, I’m excited to take part in her tagging adventure.  The rules are simple, she came up with a few questions that I have to answer and then I have to tag a few other bloggers and come up with some questions for them.

And here we go!

1.  If you could take one song/album to a desert island with you, what would it be?

Living Under June by Jann Arden.  If you’ve read this blog for a little while you know of my absolute love and devotion to Jann Arden and her music.  This particular album came out when I was in high school (holy moly that’s a long time ago) and I remember listening to it everyday on the way home on my yellow Sony walkman.  Wow, now I’m making myself sound even older.  As soon as CDs came out I upgraded my cassette copy and it’s one of the few albums I can say I still listen to on a regular basis.  This album has essentially been the soundtrack of my life and I can’t imagine leaving it behind.

2.  What one piece of advice would you give your child as he/she goes into high school?

Find your flock.  Find a group of people who care about what you think and allow you to share with them who you really are.  High school can be a scary, scary place and it makes things infinitely easier to not have to go it alone.  It’s not about popularity; it’s not about having the most friends or the coolest friends or the prettiest friends, it’s about finding a group who think you’re pretty great, just the way you are.  It will make everything else so much easier.  

3.  What is the one piece of advice that you remember most from your own parents?

My dad always encouraged me to go away to attend university.  He had done the same when he was growing up and he said it was the best experience he could have had.  Of course I’m not sure they planned on me going so far away but to this day it’s one of the decisions I look back on and know, without a single doubt, was the right one and I’m so grateful that they could see past their fears and doubts to let me go through with it.  It allowed me the opportunity to find out who I was once I was free from all that I used to be.  It was a fresh start, a chance to carry with me all of the things I liked, and a chance to dump all of the baggage I had brought on my journey up to that point.  It’s not often that advice becomes life-changing, but in this case it really did.  

4.  What is your dream job?

I don’t know quite how to put it in words, but it would somehow involve helping women through the emotional preparations and transition to motherhood.  I think we’re doing a better job supporting mothers physically and giving them the supports they need but I think we still lack in the emotional support.  I think so many of us went into this thing with such skewed expectations and ended up feeling lonely and guilty and unhappy.  And because this wasn’t the way it was “supposed” to be, we just feel more lonely and more guilty and more unhappy.  I would love to do something to help those women who go through what I have gone through, and to help them realize their feelings, no matter what they are, are exactly what they are “supposed” to be. By no means do I have all of the answers, but sometimes it’s a comfort just knowing others have asked the same questions.

5.  Would you change anything about what you studied in college or university?

It’s funny for me now to think about how far I am from what I actually studied, technically, and yet it still shapes me on an almost daily basis.  I studied Journalism because I thought I was going to be a writer.  All these years later I don’t do any writing on a formal basis and yet the principles and structure of it are with me all the time.  It taught me all of the rules and processes that I needed to know, and it taught me that I much prefer writing outside of all of that.  I want to write what I want to write, when I want to write it.  Going to school to “learn” about it taught me that at least.

6.  Who would you call if you had only one phone call left to make?

My hubby.  No matter the ups and downs, it all still begins and ends with him.

7.  Where is your favourite place in all the world?

In Ottawa, along the canal, right next to the university I attended there are locks where you can cross over to the other side of the canal.  One particular lock, once you get to the other side, takes you to a path that eventually leads you to a small foot bride.  Over the foot bridge there is a large tree and when you sit under it, you have a perfect view of a little stream that trickles its way through the park.  I found this particular spot in my first days in Ottawa, when I felt alone and unsure and it gave me some peace.  Whenever the weather was warm I would take a book down there and sit, sometimes reading, sometimes just watching the world pass by.  My last day in Ottawa, before we moved away, I went down there again, to say goodbye and whenever I’m back in the city I think of it and try to pass by as a reminder of who I was then, and where I am now.

8.  If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

The forgotten children.  The fact that there are still kids, right in our own neighbourhoods, that don’t get breakfast to eat or books to read or dreams to dream.  There must be a way, there must be a way to get around all of the judgement and the rhetoric and just help.  Just help them get what they need so they can go on to be the people they are supposed to be.  There are unwanted kids in one house and down the block there are people who want nothing more than to pass their love down to a child.  It shouldn’t be as hard as it is to bring the kids together with the love they so desperately deserve.  It really should be easier and yet it’s not.  

9.  What did you like best about your childhood?

The sheer “regularness” of it.  I grew up in the suburbs of a big city with a mom and a dad and a brother and a cat.  I walked to school and had a best friend and went for ice cream and dreamed all of the dreams that a kid is supposed to dream.  I grew up believing that I could do anything I had the courage to try, and be anything I had to imagination to dream.  Being on the other side of it now, being the one who’s responsible for giving two little people a “childhood” it has become clear to me how amazing that is.  

10.  Why/How did you start your blog?

I was feeling lost, stuck, unhappy with where I was and unwilling or unable to see another way to be.  Writing had always been an outlet for me but the idea of sharing it had always been a huge barrier to doing anything with it.  Until I decided I was tired of being afraid, tired of not writing and sharing because I was afraid of what others might think.  One day I realized that it wasn’t about them, it was about me and if writing the words helped to lighten the load, then that’s what I should do.  And the Polka Dot Palace was born.  A silly little place with a silly little name where I write about all the things that float around in my head and put them down on paper, if only to clear up some space in my mind for more things to think about.  It has proven to be a wonderfully cathartic experience.

11.  What is your favourite day of the year?

That first day of spring when it’s finally warm enough to open the windows and feel the warm breeze on my face.  When I can grab a light jacket and go for a walk, marvelling in the world coming back to life after a long winter.  When the grey gives way to the green and the darkness gives way to the sunlight.  When all I want to do is slide my feet out of my shoes and feel the grass between my toes.  When all that was dead begins to grow again.  That’s my favourite day.

Okay, my turn to continue the fun!  I’d like the tag the following bloggers and ask them to answer the questions below.

Fahrin Kermally

Shoes on the Wrong Feet


It’s not often that you are asked to think about “you” and what you like and what you want and what you see.  I know you are all busy with the million things you have to do each day but if you find a spare minute, sit down and give this a try.  For me, it was a really wonderful break in an otherwise regular Sunday afternoon of doing laundry and making lunches!

And I’ll ask my friend Bees to answer them too, not to tag her again but because I’m interested to hear her answers to the questions!

1. Who is your favourite character from a book, movie or TV show?

2. What does writing do for you that nothing else can?

3. If you could spend a month living in a foreign city, which one would it be?

4. Which thoughts run through your head and keep you from sleeping at night?

5. What is your greatest fear?

6. No matter how down you may be feeling, what is the one thing that can always make you laugh?

7. If a stranger came up to you on the street and gave you $100, the only rule being that you had to spend it on yourself, what would you buy?

8. If you had an extra hour every day, what do you wish you would do with it?

9. If you had an extra hour every day, what would you actually do with it?

10. If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would that word be?

Tag…you’re it!

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I had half an hour. An after-school errand took longer than expected and I would beat them home by about thirty minutes. I could empty the dishwasher or maybe fold the clothes that had been sitting in the dryer for the last two days. That would be practical.

I didn’t feel like being practical.

The sun was shining. I had the window of my car down just a crack. Spring had not yet arrived but it was close enough I was starting to imagine it. After months and months of winter I could finally see relief coming, just around the corner.

I was suddenly desperate to be outside. I needed to feel the air on my cheeks, the wind in my hair. Forget the dishwasher, I was going to use my thirty minutes for something much more productive.

I bolted upstairs as soon as my key turned in the lock. I quickly changed into workout pants and a hoodie, not caring if they were the pants that made my butt look big or if the hoodie had a pasta sauce stain on the front. I was almost frantic in my hurry, frantic to get outside, everywhere else suddenly seeming claustrophobic and stifling.

A quick stop for my sunglasses, ipod, shoes and I hit the front step at a jog. Then I stopped, breathing deeply, and the most incredible feeling of peace settled over me.

Feet on ground.”

So strange that those words would come into my head right at that moment.

Feet on ground.”

It took me a minute to place them and then I smiled.


Of course it would be Jann. She has always had the words when I could not find my own.

Feet on ground.”

The words so perfectly described the feeling of that moment. For so long I have been floundering, flailing, lost. There has been instability, uncertainty, unsteadiness. But in that instant it was gone. My feet were on the ground; planted firmly, steady, strong. All of the things I had feared would never be.

Heart in hand.

The next line of the song came to me as I started to walk, automatically turning down the street on my preferred route. I could feel a smile start to tickle the corners of my mouth in the same instant that tears began to form in my eyes.

Heart in hand.”

The lyrics are from one of my all-time favourite Jann Arden songs. I have probably listened to it hundreds of times, each time the words taking on a new meaning, somehow filing whatever cracks I had. I wonder what it’s like to know your words can heal. That at any moment something you created can change someone’s life; someone you have never met. I think that must be pretty amazing, for your words to add depth and meaning to someone’s world.

Heart in hand, facing forward, be yourself.”

And for the next twenty minutes I walked. I took deep breaths and inhaled the changing air. A little bit of winter and a little bit of spring. One foot in the past and one in the future.


And as I climbed the last hill that stood between me and my return home I felt a sob catch in my throat. But for the first time in so long it was not of sadness but rather of relief, understanding and hope.

Thank you for your words Jann, again and again and again.

Thank you.

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As I’ve written before, I often find my days repeating themselves, over and over on an endless loop, so when a day comes along that is so different from the norm, it’s usually a good thing.

Today is one of those days.  I get to spend the afternoon with two great ladies, chatting about anything and everything.  Then I get to go out to dinner (adults only) and I can predict that no one is going to ask me to cut their meat and, most likely, no one will spill anything on themselves.  A successful restaurant outing in my books!

And then, as if all of that wasn’t enough, I get to spend the rest of the evening in the company of Jann Arden, my all-time favourite singer, and just about everything else.  I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve seen her in concert now (I think I’m up around 10) and every time I spend the evening in tears, some as a result of her amazing music, and some because of her biting, witty, sense of humour.  Either way, the tears are a good thing.

Every so often you really need to spend a day doing wonderful things, re-charge the battery, and gain a new perspective.  If you’re looking for me today, that’s what I’ll be doing!

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with a cup and a spoon

Lyrics – Jann Arden – Everybody’s Broken

85 years she’s been livin’ right here when they took her from her home
To a little white room with a cup and a spoon and the dress that she had on
Nobody came, they’d forgotten her name, it’s like she disappeared
She’s just Claire Anne Marie and that’s who she sees when she looks into the mirror

Jann Arden is my most favourite person in the entire world.  The fact that I’ve never met her doesn’t matter at all; nor does it make the above statement any less true.  Jann is the person I would most love to have over to my house for dinner, or drinks, or coffee, or whatever she wants.  I think if I ever did have her over though my tongue would tie itself in knots and I would embarrass myself horribly by sobbing and saying “I love you” over and over until she got scared and left.

Anyway, I digress.  I love Jann because she sings the things that seem to be going on in my life.  For almost every important moment that I’ve had throughout my 34 years, there is a Jann song that goes along with it.  And, as my family moves into a difficult chapter, this continues to be true.

We are in the process of moving my grandmother into a home.  It’s always struck me that we call them “homes” when they are actually the opposite of that.  I mean I get that they try to make them has “homey” as possible but really, who are we kidding?  My grandmother and grandfather have been married for 60 years and soon my grandmother will wake up alone in a bed in a strange place.  She’ll look over beside her, searching for my grandfather and he won’t be there.

She forgets things.  She came to visit our new house a couple of months ago but if you ask her, and she doesn’t remember coming here.  She gets disoriented finding the washroom and is so unsteady on her feet that we are all terribly afraid that she will fall, as she’s done before.

My grandfather takes care of her right now, all by himself.  We try to help but none of us can be there on a daily basis to help him out and he’s slowly realizing that it’s too much for him.  He’s never been a particularly emotional or sentimental man but he has struggled openly with the decision to “send her away” as he phrases it.  One day he told me that they were a team, that they’d always been a team, and now he was going to have to tell her she had to go somewhere without him.

It’s so awful; so, so, so horrible but there are so few other choices.  We’re all so afraid of what will happen if she stays at home but no one wants to imagine the other alternative, where she sits in a “little white room with a cup and a spoon.

Thank you Jann for once again putting into words the feelings that I couldn’t articulate, and I promise that I will do whatever I can to make sure my grandmother never feels like she’s disappeared.

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